A picture of a hand writing

Your Consent is Not Required

A warning to the world et al., if I know you, have heard of you, or read something about you I am going to have opinions.

I might even (this is fairly unlikely) write about you. Even if you don’t consent. This is the way the world, and life, works.

People review restaurants, Doctors, Teachers and a myriad of other things, they don’t ask for permission first. Newspapers are free to write and publish articles about anyone and anything, and while they might ask for comment, they certainly don’t ask for permission. Writers write unauthorized biographies, TMZ and a thousand magazines keep us up to date on all matter of “news” about celebrities weight, love life and more, with no thought at all of asking if anyone would mind. Bloggers tell us of the doings of poets, priests and politicians with nary a thought (well sometimes they might hope to outrage) as to whether these folks will approve. Even on the smallest of scales we share tales of friends, neighbors, lovers, spouses with other people.

Imagine a world where this wasn’t the case?

Imagine if before committing a word to whatever medium you used, you had to ask first.

That the people you are about to talk about had the ability to say “No thank you” for whatever reason they wanted.

I think we might find there was suddenly a dearth of information. I know that the people who are in positions of power would find this delightful, a life where nary an aspersion was cast their way. No stories in the press to worry about.

Now we get to the meat of the subject, in this example you are a blogger, you write on a variety of topics including your dating/sex life. Do you need to ask permission from your date/one night stand/SO/spouse to write about any aspect of your relationship?

I say a resounding NO, now I am not saying you should list all the details, name, address, phone number, blood type. But I am saying that you should always feel free to write about any experience good or bad and never have to tell your subject that you did so. Writing is the way that many best communicate their feelings, thoughts and emotions about all that life brings their way and should always be perceived as their personal viewpoint, not THE truth, but A truth of their experiences.

And let’s face it, we all do it, when we tweet, or make a (shudder) Facebook status update, we all tell little snippets and stories from our lives. What made us laugh, cry, angry and almost always those small stories reveal something about someone who affected us. Even this post. In answering the question of “Do we need permission?” is an example. I have not named who or what prompted this writing, nor have I asked “Would this be ok to write and post?” And I shouldn’t have to.

I’d like to address the question of consent in all this, because since I am involved in D/s a fair number of people might reasonably ask if I have considered that point as consent makes up a very large part of how I interact within a BDSM framework. This is indeed something I have spent a great deal of time thinking about. Molly and I have a 24×7 D/s relationship so I often consider consent in almost all aspects of our lives. My answer to that is that consent is finite, both in seeking and granting it. While it is not possible to overstate the use of communication and consent in D/s in my mind it cannot cover everything. A person cannot consent to allow their Dom/me to chop off a limb or take their life. Conversely on the other end of the scale you cannot expect people to ask for consent from every person they interact with just in case they might want to write about it later.

None of this means that you should write about every feeling and thought you have about all of your interactions. I don’t think that would be healthy. I think that thoughtful prudence about the consequences of what you write are a great guide for deciding what you should and should not write about (I myself tend to keep those thoughts and feelings of mine to myself as a general rule), but the very thought that someone would think they could tell me that I am not allowed to talk/write/tweet/instagram/smokesignal my opinions, thoughts and feelings, well that pisses me off enough to actually write something about it.

So let’s all agree that we can all write about what we want and we will all try to deal with it as best we can. Because, after all, we are supposed to be grownups*, right?

Michael

 

 

* I make no actual claim to maturity or wisdom as anyone who has met me can attest to.

 

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3 thoughts on “Your Consent is Not Required

  1. Some aspects of life are open to public discussion and clearly they can be written about. I strongly disagree with you regarding writing about people who you have been involved with. It isn’t an absolute yes or no, but I think that there are ethics involved. A verbal snippet is very different to a blog post. There is also a lot of difference in a post that explores the writers actions and responses to one that blames the other. I don’t expect to change your mind, but personally, the ethics of consent in blogging are important to my integrity.

  2. Ahhh yes… parity is a beautiful thing Sir.

    I do love Newton’s Third Law and embrace it gladly, for it is NEVER out of homeostasis and in time… humbles all.

    Now we get to the meat of the subject, in this example you are a blogger, you write on a variety of topics including your dating/sex life. Do you need to ask permission from your date/one night stand/SO/spouse to write about any aspect of your relationship?

    The easy(iest?) solution to writing/blogging about someone(s) and respecting their/other’s human dignity — etiquette which all deserve — is to change the name(s). I’ve done this several times if consent might be an issue, a legal issue especially.

    I don’t think that would be healthy. I think that thoughtful prudence about the consequences of what you write are a great guide for deciding what you should and should not write about…

    A very wise point Sir.

    So let’s all agree that we can all write about what we want and we will all try to deal with it as best we can. Because, after all, we are supposed to be grownups*, right?

    True indeed. Without undermining the candor of this ending, within the dynamics of general human interaction (and outside of your D/s relationship with Molly) that is only half the equation, but nonetheless true. Your asterisk at the end was a funny nice touch. Bravo.

    A good “Reminder” post to any and all cyber-bloggers.

  3. As someone who tends to spend my lime tip toeing around for fear of upsetting or offending someone I’m in total agreement with you on this one.

    My blog is my space to write what I want and if that means I write I write about encounters, events and people then so be it. Having said that I won’t name someone or hint at who they are unless I’ve spoken to them and they say it’s ok.

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